5 Tips for How to Sell Insurance Over the Phone
NOTE: If you’re a new financial advisor, make sure you check out Your First Year As A Financial Advisor, where I reveal several things every new financial advisor ought to know.
In the insurance industry, traditional face-to-face meetings are slowly dying.
It doesn’t matter if you sell general liability insurance, auto insurance, term insurance, whole life insurance, or any other type of insurance. Consumers are shifting their preferences to buying online and over the phone.
Who can blame them? The telephone is an incredible time-saver. Think about it – I can literally take something out of my pocket and talk to someone a thousand miles away in less than thirty seconds. If I need an answer, I can get it instantly.
The most valuable asset we possess is our time. Fundamental buying behaviors have changed over the last few decades to make time one of the most important factors of making a purchase. That means that if you can’t serve people over the phone (and online), you’re getting left behind.
For the purposes of this post, I will focus on selling life insurance over the phone, but the ideas and concepts can be applied across multiple types of insurance.
What You Need to Start Selling Insurance Over the Phone
Years ago, you had no choice but to sell life insurance face-to-face and door-to-door. But because of the internet, consumers now have the ability to find you online and build a relationship with you. The best thing about selling insurance today is that it doesn’t take much money to get started, but there are a few operating costs you should consider:
When you’re selling life insurance over the phone, you need to be able to give quotes as quickly as possible. This does NOT mean that you sell only on price, but when people get on a call with you, they want to hear a specific number before they hang up. If you’re one of the old-school types who doesn’t believe in giving prices over the phone, good luck.
Because people want to hear a specific price, you should have the field underwriting guide, questionnaires, and software ready to go. You don’t want to be fumbling around while you’re on the phone. Good insurance customer service skills revolve around being smooth, quick, and accurate.
How to Sell Insurance Over the Phone
As a licensed insurance agent, you already know that one of the best skills you can develop is the ability to sell over the phone. Here are some tips to sharpen that skill:
1. Be organized.
I know I just covered this, but it really is important, ESPECIALLY if you’re the one initiating the call. Why call someone unprepared? Keep your computer open so you can readily access whatever you need. Have your CRM up so you can take notes during and after the call, including any follow-up items you need to complete.
2. Embrace the role of an advisor.
When selling over the phone, you must establish credibility, authority, and expertise. Buying life insurance is a big decision, so with everything else being equal, prospects will buy from someone they feel is a trustworthy expert.
The secret to building rapport is to embrace the role of an advisor. Building rapport is not about being nice or talking about golf for ten minutes. It’s about being a credible, authoritative, trustworthy expert. This is also what will get your clients to send referrals your way.
Keeping this idea in the back of your mind will also help you to keep control of every call. Prospects will try to rush you off the phone – if you get hurried, they will lose respect for you. Besides, most people don’t know the complexities of underwriting and insurance. It is your responsibility to help them along the way.
3. Ask more questions.
In order to effectively complete the underwriting section, you need ask more detailed questions beyond the bare minimum most agents use. Yes, height, weight, and smoker/nonsmoker will get you started, but digging a little deeper can help you. The more questions you ask, the more likely it is that you’ll select an appropriate product that they’ll actually get approved.
However, make sure you don’t lead the prospect. Don’t ask questions like: “You don’t have diabetes or heart conditions, right?” Just gather data and don’t give the prospect any reason to be uncomfortable.
Tell the person that you’re asking the questions in order to match him/her with the right company to get the best value for his/her situation. You can then share different carrier inventory options and let the person know how the prices are evaluated. This gives you a chance to demonstrate your expertise (again, the role of an advisor) by matching him/her with the right product at the right price.
4. Figure out what’s important.
If you assume that everyone is buying for the same reason (like lowest price), you are losing more sales than you realize. Before you present the rates, try to figure out what’s important to the client. Here’s what I mean:
It’s important to ask because you’re going to talk to and frame the offer for Joe a lot differently than you would for Linda.
5. Handle objections.
When you’re selling insurance over the phone, you should listen more than you talk, because it gives people a chance to raise concerns. When they do, it is a great sign. People will not waste their time objecting to something they have no interest in. In a general sense, objections are buying signals.
This does NOT mean that objections are a good thing, because they aren’t. All an objection means is that the person is considering your offer.
You should be prepared for objections and learn how to handle them. Too many insurance agents try to wing it. The secret to handling objections is to prepare in advance. You are in complete control when you’re prepared and you will totally lose control if you’re unprepared.
Here are some of the most common objections you’ll encounter when selling insurance over the phone:
That’s too expensive.
Make sure that you’re looking at the company that will view their application most favorably, and let them know that it’s unlikely they’ll find a better rate for the amount of coverage they want. Ask them this: “What’s more important to you – term length or the amount of the policy?” By altering either of these, you can lower the rate.
Sometimes “too expensive” is just a smokescreen. By asking that question, you can gauge their interest. If they don’t give you any other buying signals, chances are nothing you say will get them to buy. However, if they ARE interested, you can use that question to find a middle ground that gives them coverage they can actually afford.
I need to think about it.
Whenever people tell you this, they’re really saying that they don’t have enough information to feel comfortable making a decision. Just ask point-blank: “What do you need to think about?” Try to figure out what the person is uncomfortable with or what isn’t clear in the process.
If you’re getting the “need to think about it” objection frequently, take a look at how you’re explaining things earlier in the call. Life insurance isn’t something you “need to think about”.
I need to talk to my spouse.
This is similar to the “need to think about it” objection in the sense that it means the person isn’t ready to make a commitment. He/she either doesn’t have enough information or isn’t going to buy at all.
In cases like these, try to submit the application anyway. Say: “Why don’t we submit the application and get the ball rolling? If, for whatever reason, your spouse objects, we can always withdraw the application.”
I’m not interested.
Shocker! I’ve never met a person (besides agencies and agents) that is passionately interested in life insurance. It’s a boring product and it’s a product you purchase and hope you never have to use, but you have to have it.
Steamroll right through this objection, ESPECIALLY if it’s coming from an inbound lead. These people came to your website and filled out a form, so they’re obviously interested. Don’t be fooled. It may be uncomfortable to keep talking, but understand that if people stay on the phone with you, they ARE interested.
The Biggest Mistake Agents Make When Selling Insurance
One-call closes are nice, but they don’t happen often. All life insurance agents want to get an instant “yes” when they’re selling over the phone, but it doesn’t happen much. Most sales need some form of follow-up.
It’s sad to see an insurance agent get told, “It’s not a good time for me right now – can you call back next month?” and then never follow up. It’s absolutely crucial that you follow up with people who have expressed interest. Set a reminder in your CRM and contact them at a better time.
Understand that on the first contact, they don’t know you. There’s no relationship and not much background information, so don’t be surprised if they don’t want to commit to a big purchase right away. But if you follow up and stay in touch, they will get to know you and build a relationship. That way, when they are ready to purchase, you’ll be the first person that comes to mind.
Having a good CRM and follow-up system will transform the way you do business. It’s an awesome feeling to be able to sit down in the morning and have leads to contact who asked you to follow up with them. They also require less work than completely new leads.
NOTE: If you want to incorporate email into your marketing mix, I recommend Drip, who I use for my own personal email marketing automation. You can check out my review of Drip here.
Selling Over the Phone Works
Selling over the phone works so well because it enables you to become more efficient. You can cover a LOT of ground over the phone, letting you engage with more accounts and build a larger pipeline.
Even though you’re limited to just verbal cues (no body language), the most important benefit of selling over the phone is the time savings. You can use that time to help more people and make more money.
Have any questions about selling insurance over the phone or any other part of financial services marketing? Reach out to me!
ALSO READ: 7 Horrible Insurance Marketing Ideas
P.S. If you're a financial advisor who wants to get more clients from LinkedIn, make sure you check out How to Get Clients With LinkedIn: How Financial Advisors Can Set Appointments and Convert Prospects With LinkedIn